Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quackenbush Square and Quackenbush House, Albany, New York

No matter where you live in North America this is home. This peaceful urban oasis is one of the most historic corners of Albany, New York. Pieter Quackenbosch, a native of Holland came to Albany about 1660. In 1668, he purchased an established brickyard on land which to this day bears his name.

The Quackenbush House sits on the southwest corner of the square where Clinton Avenue and Broadway cross. The foundations of the house date from the late seventeenth century. The brick house with its gable end facing the street in the Dutch manner, was built in two stages: the western section at the end of the seventeenth century or the beginning of the eighteenth century and the eastern end during this late eighteenth century. It is believed that the house was built with bricks fired in the Quackenbush kilns. While Pieter built this house for his family, in the following years it was also the home of Colonel Hendrick (Henry) Quackenbush who served in both the French Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Generations of Quackenbushes were born and lived in the house until 1865 when the house was leased as a bakery. In 1868, the family sold the house to an attorney. During the ensuing years, the house has been an antique shop, a bar, and a restaurant.

The pedestrian way that runs through Quackenbush Square was once Quackenbush Street with
sidewalks abutting the street; all were demolished in 1895 except for number 25 which remains on the north side of the square. In the 1870's, the Albany Water Department began acquiring land along Quackenbush Street and Montgomery Street (which ran parallel to Broadway). The complex grew as necessity dictated with many additions during the late nineteenth century. The city engaged the architectural firm of Edward Ogden and Son who built new structures and altered older ones between 1895 and 1897. The most prominent structures are the two handsome brick with stone trim industrial buildings which occupy the corner of Quackenbush Square and old Montgomery Street. These structures date from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and originally house steam pumping engines which pumped water from the Hudson (river) to the Bleecker and Prospect Hill reservoirs. These pumps were replaced in the first decade of twentieth century with two Holly engines.

In 1897, the facade of the original townhouse of 1852 was altered with orange brick and terracotta detailings and a stable was constructed behind it. In 1897, a link building united the old townhouse and the stable. In 1970s, several fires severely damaged 25 Quackenbush Square. In 1976, number 25 was rehabilitated, the street was closed, a pedestrian walkway created, and the area was named Quackenbush Square.

Quackenbush House in 1920's

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